John J. Hight.

History of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 online

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Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 8 of 47)
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our advance, but at Elizabethtown he turned to the right,
taking the route leading through Bardstown. It was vet
uncertain wiiether he would reach Louisville ahead of us, and
we were pushed forward with all possible speed. We passed
rapidly on to Elizabethtown where we arrived at 3 p. m. of
the same day. We went into bivouac for a short time, but
about dark we again took up our line of march and kept
going until ii p.m., when we went into camp for the night.
Early next morning we started without having an opportun-
ity to get anything to eat. About 2 o'clock p. m. we arrived
at West Point on the Ohio river, nineteen miles below
Louisville. General Buell here took steamboat passage for
Louisville, and we went into bivouac until 10 o'clock next
morning. At that hour we started again but did not make
very rapid progress. Late in the afternoon of September
25th, we went into camp in a meadow, situated on the river
bank, with the pleasant prospect of a good night's rest.
But our anticipations were not realized. About 9 o'clock
word came to "fall in" and move on to Louisville, about
ten miles distant. It seems there was great fear that the
rebels would strike that place with its garrison of new troops
before our arrival. Hence the order for us to proceed at
once. We were now in advance of Buell's entire arm\-
and it was, therefore, important that we should move on.

At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 26th of September,
the Brigade to which the 58th belonged entered Louisville.
It was as dirty and ragged a crowd of tourists as had ever
been there. The}' were also tired, foot-sore, and very much
disgusted and discouraged. Here we were again at the
same place from which we started about nine months ago,
with a strong and defiant rebel army within a few miles of


us. It indeed was discouraging, for it seemed that all our
arduous work had been for naught. No wonder many of
our soldiers took advantage of our proximity to Indiana to
take a "French furlough" here, and visited their homes.
Under all the circumstances it is eas}- to understand how
many of those who thus absented themselves without leave,
were persuaded, bv some of their rebel-svmpathizing friends,
to remain at home, and thus to cause themselves to be marked
as deserters. It is a fact that there were more cases of deser-
tion during the retreat of our armv, and while we were at
Louisville, than at any other time. Perhaps more than dur-
ing the entire three 3"ears' service. As soon as we struck
the Ohio river, at the mouth of Salt river, there was a long-
ing desire to cross over into "God's Country," as our sol-
diers called Indiana. The homes of manv of our Regiment
were only a few miles distant, and it was not unnatural that
some of them should avail themselves of this opportunity to
visit their friends. At Louisville there was a great pressure
upon the commanding officers for fvu'loughs. A few were
granted but it was out of the question to grant all requests
of this kind. It would have simply amounted to a tempor-
ary disbanding of the army and giving up the cit}- to the
rebels. However, those who were very anxious to go home
did not stand on the formality of a furlough ; thev simply
went, both officers and men. It was a risky thing to do, but
most of them were fortunate enough to get back to their Regi-
ments in time to avoid any serious consequences to themselves.
As has been stated, we arrived in Louisville at 3 o'clock
on the morning of September 26tli, in the advance of Buell's
armv. It was a cold frosty niijfht, the men were all thinly
clad and sulTered from cold. We halted on a vacant lot on
Broad street, near the center of the city. There were several
old frame buildings near at hand, and it was not long until
this combustible material was doing patriotic service in
warming the tired soldiers, and boiling coffee for their refresh-
ment. It was cause of great astonishment to the Louisvill-
ians, this invasion of their z\\\ at that hour of the night, and


this appropriation of their property, without leave or license.
But our ragged and fatigued veterans were not in the most
amiable mood just then, and were not inclined to stand on

Our entry into I^ouisville at this time and in this fashion,
also occasioned something of a surprise to the Regiments of
new troops which were guarding the city. Some of these
new troops thought the rebels were coming sure, and the
"long roll" was sounded in several camps, calling the sol-
diers into line of battle to resist the invasion. Their alarm
is not to be wondered at, taking ever^^thing into consider-
ation. For several days the city had been in a state of fever-
ish excitement on account of the approach of the rebel army.
For some time after leaving Mum fords ville, as we have
stated, Bragg's army was ahead of Buell, and there was
a probability that Bragg would reach Louisville first. He
could easily have done so, but for some reason he chose to
switch off' to Bardstown. Then, another reason why the
fresh troops might be excused for being alarmed at our visit
on that cool September night, was because our general
appearance was very much like what they would imagine
the rebels to be. We were ragged and dusty, and only a
few of our men had a coat or blouse of any kind. In the
matter of appearance of our attire we might easily be mis-
taken for a rebel army, or an army of beggars.

Next day we were moved to an open space outside of the
city, not very far from the place we first camped on Ken-
tucky soil. We had a chance to rest here for a few days,
but we had no change of clothes and no opportunity^ to draw
new clothes. Our knapsacks and extra clothing had been
left with the wagon train at Bowling Green. We could
wash and make a more presentable appearance, however,
and this we did. It is remarkable what a change can be
effected, even on a ragged soldier, with a little soap and
water, and an inclination to use them.

While in this camp we were visited b}' many friends from
home and also by Indiana's great war Governor, Oliver P.



Morion. This was Governor Morton's third visit to the
58th since we left home and we were always glad to see
him. His visit at this time was especially cheering. As he
walked through our camp he spoke words of cheer to the
men, assuring them of his constant concern for their welfare.
He told us that we would be paid otf here and new clothing,^
blankets, etc., would be issued. This was the arrangement
made through the influence of Governor Morton, but it did
not. turn out that way, as we shall see presently.

A large number of new
Regiments were added to
our armv here. These
Regiments iiad been or-
ganized under President
Ivincoln\s call of Julv i,
1862. /\s a rale they
were composed of more
mature men than those
who enlisted under the
first call in 1861. Tlw
first (Milistments were
largelv voting men and
bovs, those of 1862 were
generally older men,
manv of them with wives
and cliildren at liome.
Tliis characteristic in tlie
composition of the new
Regiments indicates the
growtii of sentiment as to the seriousness ot the struggle.
It might be charged that there is a little of the love of
adventure and a desire for glory, mingled with the patriotic
ardor of the \()ung man, without domestic afliliations, who
enlists in tlie army to tight his country's battles. But this

* Was mustered in as Sergeant of Company A in Camp Gibson, and
served his full term of enlistment with his Company. After his discharge
from the army he returned to his farm near Oakland City. Indiana, where he
has continued to reside.



cannot be said of the man who will leave a wife and children.
Pure and genuine patriotivsm is unquestionably the motive
that prompts such sacrifice.

These new Regiments were all well equipped, and in their
bright new tiniforms they presented a great contrast to the
veterans of Buell's army. We found many of our triends
among the new recruits, particularly in the 8oth Indiana, a
Regiment that had been organized in Camp Gibson, the first
camp of the 58th.

Some important changes in the organization of the army
took place while we were at Louisville, which it will be well
to note here : On the 29th of September, General Wm.
Nelson, one of our most efiicient Division commanders, was
killed at the Gait house by General Jefierson C. Davis, the
result of a personal quarrel. This unfortunate event cast a
gloom over the army for a time, but there were too many
other exciting events transpiring tor this to obtain more
than a passing notice, except among the immediate friends
and associates of the parties. On the same day of this
occurrence a general order was issued re-organizing the atmy
into three grand divisions, to be known as the First, Second
and Third Corps. They w^ere also called the Right Wing,
Center and Left Wing. The First Corps, or Right Wing, was
assigned to the command of Major-General A. D. McCook ;
the Second Corps, or Left Wing, w^as commanded by Major-
General Thomas L. Crittenden ; the Third Corps, or Center,
was commanded by Major-General C. C. Gilbert. Major-
General George H. Thomas was second in command under
General Buell. In this organization the 58th was assigned to
the First Brigade, First Division, Third Army Corps, or Left
W^ing. Our Brigade was still commanded by General Has-
call, and composed of the same Regiments as formerly, wnth
the addition of the looth Illinois.


Louisvii.LE TO Nashville — Driving Bragg from Bards-
town — Following Him Through Springfield —
Long and Dusty Marches — Water Scarce — Bat-
tle OF Perryville — Dilatory Movements — Blun-
dering — Bragg, with his Booty, Escapes — Turning
Toward Nashville — An October Snowstorm —
Columbia — Glascow — Sil\'er Springs — Lookincj
AFTER Morgan — Again at Nashville.

THERE was great disappointment when the orders came
to march, after we had been in Louisville less than four
days. We had expected to get our pav and clothing while
here, but our hopes were blasted. On the ist day of
October we started again on our march in the direction of
Bardstown. The part of the rebel army under Bragg was
now concentrated at this place. Another large force was at
Frankfort under General Kirby Smith. It was the purpose
of General Buell to prevent these two armies from uniting,
and he, therefore, sent a large portion of his army to Frank-
fort to interest the rebels at that place while another part was
dealing with Bragg at Bardstown.

The first night alter leaving Louisville the 58th camjied
on the same ground that they occupied on tiieir other trip
this wav, the previous December. Starting from there earlv
next morning we soon found that our progress was disputed
by the rebels. A continual skirmish was kept up between
our advance and the rebel cavalrv all that da\', but we kept
driving them back. It was evident that Bragg was not
going to give us the right of way if he could avoid it.


The third evening after we left Louisville we were \nsited
by the paymaster and received our pay, the first we had
received for four months. It was very inconvenient to take
care of money situated as we then were, as there was little
opportunitv for sending it home. Several attempted to do
so and never heard of the remittance afterward. Others car-
ried their money with them on the march and lost it in one
way or another.

In the march the following day the 15th Brigade was
assigned to the advance of the army. We were skirmishing
with the rebels all dav. Turning to the left of the main
pike we moved along until, about the middle of the afternoon,
we had reached a point a mile and a half from Bardstown,
where we halted. It was important to know just what force
of rebels were in our front, so the 58th Indiana, 26th Ohio
and two sections of the 8th Indiana Battery, were sent for-
ward as a reconnoitering partv. A portion of the 3d Ohio
Cavalry was sent in advance of this party. We had pro-
ceeded but a short distance when the report of sharp firing
of carbines in our front was evidence that our cavalry had
found the rebels. The two Regiments of infantry were
hurriedly thrown into line of battle on each side of the road.
While this movement was being executed the cavalry came
flying back at a furious rate, which was their habit in emer-
gencies of this kind. This sudden retrograde movement of
the cavalry caused a good deal of excitement and confusion
among the infantry, and prevented their formation into line
for a time. Soon the artillery was in position and fired a
few shots in the direction from which the cavalry fled.
Skirmishers were thrown forward and the whole line
advanced. The rebels were soon found, but the}- did not
make a verv strong resistance. We found they were only
the rear guard of Bragg' s retreating army, and they readily
moved on when we charged upon them. As we entered the
town on one road we could see the rebels making their exit
in great haste on another. Bragg's main force had been
gone several hours. We marched into town and went into


bivouac for the night. The 58th occupied the court house
and served as provost guards that night. Next morning the
other part of our army came up and passed on to the front,
going in the direction of Springfield. About 10 o'clock
General Wood's Division started on the march, leaving the
17th Indiana at Bardstown as provost guards. We camped
that night on Beach Fork of Salt river, near the village of

Started late next morning, struck the Springfield pike
and followed it to tliat place. The rebels had been
driven from here by our advance several hours before
our arrival. We camped again in th(^ fair ground, same
place as on our tormer visit last winter. We remained iiere
the next day and the next night, waiting tor orders. The
roads were now literally blockaded with troops and wagons,
so that it was difficult to get started and tedious marching
after we did start. About noon of the second day we left
our Springfield camp. We moved out on the Lebanon pike
for a short distance then turned off to the left toward Dan-
ville road. The march of that al'ternoon and the greater
part of the night was 'one long to be remembered by those
who participated in it. The road was very rough and very
dusty. There was not a drop of water to be liad tor man
or beast. About 11 o'clock tiiat night we reached the place
where it had been designed to camp, only to find that no
water could be had, so we had to go on. We turned off tiie
road at Hayesville and went along a narrow by-road, follow-
ing a dry creek bottom for about six or eight miles. It was
move a little piece, then stop, then move on again. This
jogging march continued all night, and many a worn out
soldier fell b\' the wayside utterly (\\hausted, notwitiistantl-
ing the stringent orders from the commanding General, read
tlie previous evening, in regard to stragglers.

About }, o'clock in the morning the welcome word came
thai wati'r was found and we were going into cam]-). Our
camping i->laci' was on Rolling Fork of Salt river, and we
found an abundant supph' of water with which to quench


our thirst. After getting a drink tlie men piled down in
every conceivable shape and were soon sound asleep.

The sun had risen some time before our camp was astir
next morning, and then we were only partially rested tVom
the fatiguing march of the dav before. This morning,
October 8, we learned that the enemv were in full force at
Perr^'vilIe, eight miles from us, and that there was a strong
probabilitv of a battle that dav. Colonel Fyffe, command-
injjf our Briofade, visited each Retriment of his command, as
they were drawn up in line preparatory to starting on the
march. He made a brief address to each, urging the men
to be courageous and faithful in the discharge of the trying
duty to which thev were likely to be calk'd that day. He
reminded them of the high honors alreadv achieved by the
soldiers of their respective states and charged them with the
duty of maintaining that high standard. Colonel Fyffe was
answered with cheer upon cheer, indicating that the men of
the old 15th Brigade, composed of soldiers from Indiana,
Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky, were ready for any duty, and in
the battle which was though.t to be impending, the\- would
not be found wanting-.

To our surprise we did not start at once towards Perr^ -
ville, where the enem}^ was reported to be, but la^' at this
camp until 12 o'clock, waiting orders from General Buell.
Then, after starting we did not move rapidly, but made
several long halts by the way. We did not reach the battle-
tield until near sundown. The battle had been rasrincr since
noon, with only McCook's Corps to withstand Bragg's entire
army. It was an unequal contest but our men showed great
valor and held their ground. To the private soldier it
seemed a great bhmder that the rest of BuelFs armv was
not brought into'this battle. There were thousands of troops
within easy reach, enough to have crushed Bragg.

We were thrown into line of battle about sundown. The
battle was still raging tiercely off to our left, but thei-e was
nothing but skirmish hring in our front. Soon after dark
tlK> battle ceased, and there was comparative quiet during


the night. We slept on our arms in line of battle waiting-
lor an attack. Early next morning we discovered tliat the
enemy had taken advantage of the darkness to slip awav.
Their dead and wounded were left on the field in great num-
bers, showing that tlieir loss was severe, as was also our own.

The Perryville battle seems to have been a mistake all
around. It is said that Bragg made the attack thinking it
was only a small force that he had to contend with. He
had no idea that the greater part of Buell's armv was within
easv reach. On the other side it was claimed that McCook
undertook to make a reconnoissance and went too far, bring-
ing on a general engagement. It is claimed tliat Buell had
no information of the battle until after it had been raging-
tor some time. The conduct of the commanding General
in this battle was severely criticised, and there were a great
man\' tlieories as to what might liave been the result it
thincfs had been ordered ditlerentlv. I am inclined to a:!

\ille we turned to tlie rio-ht and marched aljoul se\"en miles,
when we went into camp in a beautiful walnut grove. We
were in the tamous blue grass region now and found many
line groves covered with this wonderful product of Kentucky
soil. This is also the center of the richest agricultural sec-
tion of the state and there are evidences of luxury and
wealth on everv side. What a pit}' that this beautiful scen-
er\' should be marred b\' the red hand of war. What a pity
that a people who had such happy and comfortal'jle homes,
and prosperous surroundings, should rise in rebellion against
the government that had protected them, and thus invite the
carnage and devastation of contending armies.

Earlv next morning our pickets were attacked b}' Morgan's
cavalrv. Thev were driven in and were closely followed
bv the rebels who evidently expected to find our troops
unprepared. But thev were mistaken. Part of the 58th
had just returned from picket duty, on another part of the
line, and w'as engaged making coi^'ee and preparing break-
fast, when the rapid firing of our picket outpost indicated
that there was trouble on hand. Coffee and cookinij- uten-
sils were quickly abandoned. Even before the order to
"fall in" was given our boys were getting their guns. In
less than three minutes the line was t'ormed and readv for
the charo-ino; column of cavalrv. In the meantime our bat-
terv was taking position and soon opened out on our earlv
morning visitors. This seemed to surprise them as the^-
immediately turned and fled. It was learned afterward, that
this attack was intended as a ruse to draw us on to a ]")lace
where thev had some masked batteries in position to mow
our columns down.

After this sudden outbreak nothing else occurred during
the dav to disturb the sei'enity of our camp. That night
the entire Regiment went out on picket. Reports came in
that evening that the rebels were in large force a short dis-
tance from our camp and there was strong probability of an
attack earlv next morning. This report, of course, was
calculated to make us vi

Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 8 of 47)